Why BlackBerry needs to start marketing like a startup

By most accounts the Blackberry 10 launch has not been the turnaround success the company had hoped for: sales last quarter were disappointing, the outlook doesn’t look any brighter and most operators have recently made deep cuts to the price of the Z10 and Q10 handsets in a bid to stimulate interest.

I’ve written about the company’s poor marketing and PR over the last 15 months; why it is the fundamental flaw in the Blackberry 10 launch plan; and how I would have done it differently.  On that basis, the only option remaining is for the company to go back to marketing basics and start marketing like a startup.  I believe that by applying lean principles to its public relations and marketing to ensure that it delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time, via the right channel to ensure that it delivers a specific objective.

Here’s what BlackBerry – and you – must do to create effective PR and marketing programs for your startup or small business:

Play to its strengths. Blackberry was always the handset of Enterprise users that valued its secure email capabilities and physical keyboard.  Blackberry is a long way from its roots, and it needs to get back to playing to its strengths.

Identify specific customer groups.  Blackberry’s current target market is ‘hyper-connected users’ with more than one email account.  That pretty much means that anybody buying a smartphone is a potential customer, but it also makes giving them a compelling reason to choose a Blackberry 10 device over one of the competitor handsets incredibly difficult.  My wife, my sister, my father and my best friend would all fall in to the hyper-connected demographic, but we all have very different requirements in smartphones.

Segmenting the audience in to clearly identifiable groups makes marketing far more targeted and this dramatically increases the chances of success.

Rethink the message.  I’m not sure who came up ‘Keep Moving’ but it seems to have encouraged consumers to keep moving past its in-store displays.  Blackberry needs to rethink its message and develop custom messaging for each of its defined target audiences.  Blackberry also claims that the new OS is the future of real mobile computing – but so far that claim looks like a lot of marketing hype, and very little like reality.

Act quickly.  One of the biggest problems is that Blackberry didn’t start PR and marketing for Blackberry 10 until 4 days after the official launch.  Then, it ran a Super Bowl advert months before its new handsets were available in its largest market. Timing is one of the often overlooked elements of a PR and marketing program, but one of the largest factors in the success or failure of it.

Find the right channels.  Blackberry has spent a lot of money on marketing its new devices and OS… but without a defined audience the chances of successfully delivering the right message to the right people is slim.  It’s like rolling dice and hoping the right number comes up.  It’s not a very scientific way to market, and all the indications are that the wrong numbers are coming up far too often.

Validate everything. One of the principles of Lean is to continually validate or disprove hypotheses in order to focus activity and increase the chances of success.  It is clear that Blackberry’s launch plan for Blackberry 10 hasn’t worked and it needs to start testing new marketing and public relations hypotheses if it is to have any chance of remaining a credible player in the smartphone market.

What would you like to see from Blackberry’s marketing and PR programs?

Read my other posts on Blackberry’s marketing problems 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *